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Politics & Government

New York State Assembly's Judiciary Committee Will Consider Cuomo Impeachment

NOEL KING, HOST:

Late last night, Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, resigned. New York's attorney general, you'll remember, found the governor sexually harassed multiple women and engaged in retaliation against some of them. Governor Cuomo says he didn't do anything wrong. But later this morning, state lawmakers will meet to discuss whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings against him. With us now is New York Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. She's a member of the judiciary committee that's going to be meeting today. Good morning.

CATALINA CRUZ: Good morning, Noel.

KING: What's going to happen at the meeting today? What is the purpose?

CRUZ: So we've been meeting regularly since the investigation began mid-March. We generally will receive a report from our lawyers who are conducting an investigation into four issues. Our investigation goes a little bit more in-depth in these issues than the attorney general's. We're looking at the issue around construction safety at the Mario Cuomo Bridge, the allegations of sexual harassment, the possible use of government staff for the editing of the governor's book and the death and possible hiding of information - or what we think was the hiding of information - of the death of seniors in living - in senior living facilities during COVID. We'll get a report. I can guarantee there's going to be a discussion of the report from the attorney general and, probably, an update on the - on whether we've received the information we requested last week from the attorney general. We've looked at the report. But we want the backup. We want the transcripts, the 74,000 pieces of evidence because if we're going to proceed with this process of impeachment, we need the actual tangible evidence.

KING: Do you want to hear from Governor Cuomo himself?

CRUZ: Look; I would like to. But I'm not sure how much different what he's said in public and seeing that he doesn't think he did anything wrong is going to change if he, in fact, did speak to us. I do have a feeling that our attorneys have reached out to him to speak to us personally. Folks who are listening may have already seen our attorneys send his team a letter last week saying, we're basically done with our investigation. You have until the end of next week to provide us any additional information.

KING: OK. So you're sort of waiting on him at this point.

CRUZ: Yes.

KING: The state attorney general found the governor violated state and federal laws by retaliating against the women who accuse him of sexual harassment - some of them, anyway. Why is that not enough to move forward with impeachment proceedings?

CRUZ: Well, we - as I said earlier, we're not saying that it's not enough. We are saying that we need the actual tangible evidence because we need to draft the articles of impeachment. And it isn't just about drafting them and getting him out of his seat of power, if you will, to then get these allegations to stand. We actually have to conduct a trial because we then have to go in front of the Senate of the state of New York and defend these allegations. And so a report, it's not going to be enough to do that. We need the actual evidence to be able to go through the whole proceeding.

And I think what folks have to - should also remember is that the history in New York when it comes to impeachments, we don't have that much backup. There's only been one situation like this in the entire history before. So we want to get it right. And we want to get it right not just because these women deserve us getting it right, but because the people of New York deserve us getting it right.

And I'll say, Noel, what I've said to a lot of people. I think the more important question here is - you know, we have someone with power who, for 10, 20 years that he's been at the lead of some sort of agency or state entity or even the state of New York, has been telling anyone who would hear how much he loves New Yorkers, how much he wants to fight for New Yorkers. But now we have someone who's putting his ego and his own political needs before New Yorkers. He could have resigned three months ago. He could have resigned last week. But he still hasn't done it. And he still continues to hold onto whatever little bit of power he has left because it's his ego. It's not about the people of New York.

KING: What happens if he does resign?

CRUZ: I think that's going to be also something we will discuss today. You know, because there is no precedent, there could be very well where this ends. And it could be very well where we continue our process of impeachment even if he resigns.

KING: New York Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, thank you so much for your time this morning.

CRUZ: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.